If you or your child is just getting started with martial arts training, you’ve undoubtedly faced the debacle of buying a uniform and belt, and as well as figuring out how to put them on.  To the uninitiated, both aspects can be a bit challenging.  If you’re fortunate, the uniform may be provided for you or your child by the school, which makes picking the right size a little easier.  If, however, you’ve been left to your own devices, a little research is in order to accomplish this task.


Choosing a Uniform and Belt

If your school does not provide you with a uniform (or an option to order one), then you’ll need to buy it yourself.  I recommend talking to the martial arts instructor for brand recommendations and other special issues.  Otherwise, Amazon is a great place to start looking.  While I cannot personally recommend any particular brand, Century and Tiger Claw are two popular martial arts uniform manufacturers.

Whichever manufacturer you choose, be sure to visit their website and look for their sizing charts.  Uniform and belt sizing is fairly standard across manufacturers, but there are some differences, possibly significant ones if you end up buying a less-popular brand.  Finding those sizing charts is critical to buying a good uniform.  Typically, uniform sizes are based on a person’s height and weight, and belt sizes are based on waist size, so you’ll need these measurements to figure out what you need.

A Child's Tae Kwon Do Belt With VelcroCredit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

I should also mention that you can buy belts which have velcro in the back, making them easy to put on and take off. 

 This is a type commonly used in children’s uniforms.  Despite this convenience, these belts will require the knot be tied  / re-tied every once in a while.



Putting on the Uniform 

Uniforms vary across martial arts disciplines and manufacturers, so I will focus on the uniform style that’s common to Tae Kwon Do martial arts clubs, though I know it’s common in other martial arts forms as well.  

This uniform style  is two-piece, a top and bottom.  The bottom is like a pair of pajama pants - an elastic waistband with a string to tie them tight.  The top, however, is a bit more complicated.

The top to a two-piece Tae Kwon Do uniformCredit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

A top has four strings to tie together.  Two are at the bottom in the front of the uniform and two are located on the sides (above the hips).  Notice that one of the side strings is inside the uniform and the other is on the outside.  

 To tie the top together, take the side string on the inside of the uniform and tie it to the opposing front string (from left to right, the third and second strings in the picture).  You can tie them the same way you tie a shoelace, if you like.  Then repeat this for the remaining two strings.


Tying the Belt

 The belt is a challenging thing to tie and it will no doubt be several weeks before you can do it without thinking (assuming you never bother to tie it until it’s time for class!).  Follow these steps to get the belt tied snugly:


Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 1Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Match the ends of the belt together and fold it in half to find the middle.  



Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 2Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Place the middle of the belt in front on the waist, just below the belly button.

Wrap both ends of the belt completely around the waist.

Make sure the belt tags (if any) are facing outward.



Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 3Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Tuck the overlapped end (the end which was crossed over in back) under the belt all the way around the front.  This is the end on the right in the image above.



Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 4Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Pull both ends of the belt to make it snug around the waist.  This is critical to avoid constantly readjusting or (worse yet) retying the belt during a lesson.




Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 5Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Take the end that laps over top and tuck it underneath the belt from the bottom.  Pull this end through (between the belt and body) so that it is extending upward.  (The left end in the image above).



Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 6Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Take the other end and give it a half-twist inward (toward) the body.  



Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 7Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Pull the twisted end to the opposite side of the body, forming a small loop at the middle of the waist.



Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 8Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Take the end that was tucked under the belt in Step 6 and lay it over the other end.



Tying a Martial Arts Belt, Step 9Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Take the overlapped end and pull it under and through the loop at the middle.



Typing a Martial Arts Belt, Step 10Credit: Joel Graff, CC-BY, via InfoBarrel

Tug on the ends tightly to make sure the knot is tight.  If you did it correctly, the ends should be the same length and the knot should face outward.


Troubleshooting Tips

  •  If the manufacturer’s tag / size tag are facing outward, you had the belt turned the wrong way (see Step #3).  You must remove the belt and start over.
  • If the belt is too loose, you will need to undo the knot and make sure it is tight at step #5.  You cannot tighten it after the knot has been made.
  • If the knot does not look correct, it could be that your half-twist (step #7) was in the wrong direction.  Undo the knot and start again from there.


The process of putting on a martial arts uniform and tying the belt is a bit tricky, but if done correctly, the uniform will fit well and the belt will remain tight even under strenuous exercise.  Tying the belt becomes second nature with practice, so take some time and tie the belt several times every once in a while until you can't get it wrong.